The Kiwanis Club of Santa Monica recently concluded its annualcommunity grant program by giving away $50,000 at last week’s luncheon meeting. The leaders of the community organizations receiving grants enjoyed lunch and the opportunity to speak about their organizations.

One of the grants will help the Junior Blind Foundation provide a summer camp experience for children who are visually impaired.

Another grant supports Angel Flight West in their efforts to fly sick and injured patients who would otherwise not have access to adequate care, to Santa Monica to receive exceptional care at our area hospitals and universities. They have recently started a new program called Earth Angels for volunteers to drive patients from the airport to treatment.

Safety Harbor Kids received a grant to help their mission of providing orphaned and foster youth with opportunities for a brighter future through educational outings, art and music programs and college preparatory tutoring.

The director of the Children’s After-School Theater told us their organization has three objectives: building confidence, fostering teamwork, “and yes also putting on plays.”

K-9 Connection works with at risk teens to train homeless dogs for adoption. The teens build their self-esteem and learn to practice empathy, and the dogs get a second chance on finding a loving home. K-9 has helped hundreds of teens and dogs thanks to grants like this one.

At the end of the grant presentation, Robert Kronovet, the current President of the Kiwanis Club of Santa Monica, referred to the organizations’ leaders and volunteers as heroes. Heroes for doing what they do, for the people they selflessly serve, and on behalf of all of us.

The Kiwanis Club of Santa Monica is able to provide these community grants partly by raising funds at the annual Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament. This year, the seventhyear, the event will be on Saturday, August 15 at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. All players are welcome to this community event, major prizes are awarded to the top nine finishers and a great time is had by all. The evening festivities begin at 5 p.m. The buy-in is $125 and includes $2,000 worth of chips, gourmet buffet dinner, drink ticket and raffle ticket. Register to play or to sponsor by going to our website.

Lest you think the Kiwanis Club is still a group of poke-playing men (well, admittedly it was at one time), Kiwanis Club International is 49.6 percent women and is the first global service organization with a female leader. Sue Petrisin of Lansing, Michigan, will be the first woman president of any of the international service groups when she begins her term in October. Congratulations Sue, and congratulations Kiwanis.

From supporting the community through generous contributions, to bringing the community together for fundraising and fun, to leading the community by setting an example of equality, Kiwanis lives up to its motto: a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time.

Since 1922 the Kiwanis Club of Santa Monica has been the most active service organization in Santa Monica; each year the club awards over $120,000 to our community in the form of grants, scholarships and sponsorships. Regular club lunch meetings are the first three Wednesdays of the month from 12 to 1:30 p.m. To join us or to donate to Kiwanis Charities, visit our website at www.KiwanisClubSM.org or follow us on Facebook.

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